The Swiss portal for the historical sciences

Adaptation – Autonomy – Continuity: Academia in Times of Crises

14. June 2021 to 16. June 2021 Add to calendar

Online conference on the history of academia, its institutions and actors in «times of crisis» in the 20th century.

Academia is a historically grown and interwoven social and cultural system, and is closely linked to social and political developments. This relationship becomes particularly visible in times of political upheaval or accelerated social change such as during the First World War and in the years of state building after 1918, in fascist and national socialist dictatorships and the Second World War, throughout the turmoil of «68», after the collapse of communism in Europe as well as during and after various revolutions throughout the century and major (academic) migration movements. Academia and its core institution, the universities, have a longer tradition than almost any other institution, and has therefore shown particular coping strategies in times of crises.

It is the goal of this conference to focus on what happened to academia, its institutions and actors in «times of crisis» and to ask about its specific strategies to overcome rupture. The broadly defined concept of crisis will provide the opportunity to bring different research projects and perspectives into contact with each other. This allows us to discuss the many developments and ruptures of the 20th century in a comparative way.


Monday, June 14th
Link for all lectures on Monday:

Introduction: Stefanie Mahrer

Panel 1: Studying in times of upheaval and crises

Pushpa Kumbhat (University of Oxford)
Taking Down the Walls. Universities and Extramural Education for Mass Democracy in Britain, 1900 – 1939

Isabella Löhr (Universität Osnabrück)
Academic Solidarity and Modern Humanitarianism: The Emergence of Student Relief Practices during World War I

Marino Ferri (Universität Luzern)
Ein akademisches Hilfswerk «im eigentlichen Sinne des Wortes»? Die Hilfsaktion für Flüchtlingsstudenten in der Schweiz als historiographische Herausforderung

16.30–17.00 Break

17.00 Virtual get together on wonderme (Please register in advance)

Tuesday, June 15th

Link for all lectures on Tuesday

Panel 2: Resistance and aid to migration in academia. Actors and their options for action during the Nazi regime

Silvia Madotto (FU Berlin)
Facing Fascism at University. Resistance in Academia during the Second World War

Tim Schmalz (University of Cambridge)
The Austrian Legation in London and Academic Refugees at Cambridge, 1933–1945

Sinja Clavadetscher (Universität Bern)
Aid Organisations for academic refugees from Germany after 1933: A Swiss example

10.40–11.00 Break

Panel 3: Swiss Policy and Policies in Swiss Universities (1933–1945)

Stefanie Salvisberg (Universität Bern)
«For a Swiss citizen, Switzerland should provide”. Appointment Practices at Swiss Universities and the Case of Alexander Weinstein

Isabelle Haffter (Universität Bern)
The Crisis of the Academisation of Theatre Studies in the context of the Swiss policy of a „geistige Landesverteidigung“ during the Second World War

12.20–14.00 Break

Panel 4: Working in Exile

Linda Erker (Universität Wien)
Zwangsmigration als wissenschaftliche Chance? Zur Karriere der chilenisch-österreichischen Archäologin Grete Mostny und anderer vertriebener Wissenschaftlerinnen

Rudolph Ng (University of Portsmouth)
Learning behind War Front: Foreign Professors at the National Southwest Associated University

Julia Richter (Universität Wien)
Das Fortleben des Textes – Kollaborative Translation im Exil.

Wednesday, June 16th

Link for all lectures on Wednesday:

Panel 5: Uninterrupted careers. The legacy of Nazi scientists in the post-war period.

Robert Obermair (Universität Salzburg)
Eine Vergleichsstudie des Einflusses katholisch-nationaler Kreise im akademischen Milieu in Österreich und Argentinien am Beispiel des Urhistorikers Oswald Menghin

Halvard Schommartz (FU Berlin) & Thekla Neuss (FU Berlin & Akademija za Gledališče, Radio, Film in Televizijo in Ljubljana)
Anti-Crisis-Objects of Post-War Theatre Studies.
Performing Dramaturgies of Epistemic and Personal Continuity through Festschriften in Times of Academic Distortion

9.50–10.10 Break

Panel 6: Mobility and exchange in academia during the Cold War

Matthieu Gillabert (Université de Fribourg)
Racialized mobility and postcolonial student housing: Switzerland and Poland in comparison

Irina Nastasă-Matei (University of Bucharerst)
Intellectuals between East and West during the Cold War. The Romanian Humboldt fellows in the Federal Republic of Germany

11.30–11.45 Break

11.45 Final Discussion

Organised by: 
Prof. Dr. Stefanie Mahrer, Sinja Clavadetscher, M.A., Stefanie Salvisberg (Historisches Institut der Universität Bern) (Historisches Institut der Universität Bern)


Aleksandra Petrovic

Additional event information

Cost information

0.00 CHF

Registration information

Registration via contact person